Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fruit of the Family Tree

I have been using Ancestry to try to make a family tree and it has been quite interesting. You see, there are many others who are also doing the same thing and these people, when they construct their tree on Ancestry, put in information that you may find useful in YOUR tree. You can find these by searching names in Ancestry. Very interesting to see the links with other families. I hadn't found out much about my own relatives, other than what I already knew but recently I found my aunt's picture on a family tree that was mostly about her husband's family. I had only met her once, I think, but I recognized her when I saw her. She was my mother's half sister. Then I went to another aunt, also my mother's half sister, and found information about her son, who was my first cousin. Sadly, I never got a chance to meet him. For a few months we lived with this aunt, but her son had already died in World War II. I knew he died in the Pacific but that's all I knew about it. He was about ten years older than I am. On Ancestry, I found a picture of his grave marker. It is in the Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. He died in the Battle of Saipan, I believe, in 1944. If I am ever so lucky as to visit Hawaii, I plan to go to the cemetery and put flowers on his grave.  I don't know if his mother was ever able to visit there. When I knew her, she was a single lady, a widow, I think, living as housekeeper to a single man. We were able to stay with them when we first arrived in America. My cousin was her only child. Ancestry has illuminated many dark areas of our past for me, and I must say, I enjoy it. Many people, I know, have no interest in the past, but for some reason, I always would like to know. As they say, if we don't know our history, we may relive it. And that could be either good or bad. I come from a rather large extended family but for one reason or another, our own family lost touch with most of them. We all started out in Northern Ireland and in typical British and Irish fashion spread out around the world, mostly to North America. Some of my father's relatives went to Australia and New Zealand. I also have a first cousin in South Africa. My sister used to write to her as they were the same age. But I have relatives in the United States I have never met as they arrived at different times. Maybe that is why I am curious about our history. It is a little mystery in itself and you know, I do love mysteries!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Where's the Coffee?

It must be the economy. Our local coffee shops seem to be disappearing. We are now down to one or two. It seems here in West Central New Jersey, people don't seem to be much in need of a place to sit down in the morning, say anywhere from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and have a nice cup of coffee and a nice accompaniment such as a muffin, bagel, danish or related item. The places that style themselves "coffee shops" such as Starbucks (which we don't have) serve a kind of coffee we really don't like. It seems strong and bitter. No amount of milk will lighten it and since we don't take any kind of sugar, nothing will sweeten the taste. I, myself, like a good restaurant or diner cup of coffee. Unfortunately, our last diner burned down over twenty years ago. Someone is building a place they call a diner but it is still under construction. Our Borders closed its doors, folded its tents, and left. The coffee was terrible but at least we could look at books. There is a Barnes and Noble about 12 miles away but that is a little far to go just for a cup of coffee. We have been roaming the neighborhood now looking for substitutes for the recent closings. One place wasn't bad but we had to eat peach pie in place of a danish. A little odd in the morning although the pie was good. I must add that none of the places have any "ambiance." Yes, coffee shops can have ambiance. This is a very scenic county, all green rolling hills, lakes and streams. Is there a little coffee shop overlooking the views? No. If they overlook anything, it is a highway. We are somewhat particular about where we go. Not that crazy about Dunkin Donuts or any kind of fast food place. We miss the beachside little "holes in the wall" of Florida and Cape Cod which serve delicious drinks and treats, sometimes served along with a sea breeze and a peek at the ocean.  Of course, those places are designed for tourists. I guess we local residents, not being tourists, can just lump it and go home to put our own kettles on. Many times we do just that and sit looking at all the work that has to be done in the garden. Sometimes we really miss New York City. The coffee wasn't always good there either, but New York has other things.